The two Marvel superheroes Thor and Hulk had a solo adventure in a television movie called “The Return of the Incredible Hulk”, broadcast in 1988.
From 1977 to 1982, the series The Incredible Hulk aired on CBS with Bill Bixby as Doctor David Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno in that of his perpetually angry green alter ego: Hulk. On May 12, 1982, the 82nd episode was broadcast, state of emergency, which is also the last. It does not give any conclusion to the series. But the adventure does not stop there.
Six years pass, and Bill Bixby wants to bring the character back to life. Exit CBS, more interested in superhero series since the end of Spiderman and the failures of Captain America and Doctor Strange and hello NBC, which is partnering with Bixby and Stan Leewho became a consultant on the project.
Bixby recalls a Nicholas Corea, who had directed 12 episodes of the series, which he is responsible for writing and directing. The end result is called The Return of the Incredible Hulkand it is supposed to serve as a pilot to convince the launch of a new series on the green giant from Marvel.
The story begins two years after the end of the series, when Doctor David Banner is in a relationship with a colleague named Maggie Shaw. At the same time, he has just helped build a gamma transponder which he thinks could rid him of the Hulk. But while he is going to try the device on himself, a certain Donald Blake appears announcing to him that he has found an ancient hammer capable of summoning a Nordic warrior from Asgard called… Thor.
Hulk and Thor fight each other, without much success. Meanwhile, a criminal organization seeks to get their hands on the gamma transponder, Maggie is kidnapped despite the intervention of Hulk and Thor. The criminals then blackmail Banner: if he does not give them the transponder, his girlfriend will be executed.
David Banner deactivates the device so that it can no longer become a weapon of destruction, thereby destroying his chances of getting rid of the Hulk personality. A fight begins between Blake, Thor and Hulk on one side and the mobsters on the other. The latter do not measure up and their leader is arrested, tied with a twisted pipe by the Hulk. To preserve Maggie and let her live her life, Banner renounces her and continues his quest for a cure.
The Return of the Incredible Hulk is one of American television’s Marvel Connected Universe attempts nearly twenty years before Iron Man by Marvel Studios. Reuniting Thor and Hulk for an adventure will also be taken up by the Marvel Cinematic Universe many years later with Thor: Ragnarok.
We find in this telefilm the spirit of the series with the return of Bixby and Ferrigno but also the character of the investigative journalist Jack McGee, already present in the series, and seeking by all means to expose the existence of Hulk to the big day. First downside on the two new characters, because Blake has little interest and Maggie takes second place since no one ever wants to explain anything to her.
The action sequences punctuate the film but the fights lack breath and certain moments like the discovery of the universe of the nightclub by Thor are pure filler. Moreover, the Asgardian seems only interested in women and beer and we say to ourselves that this series buddy movie which was planned may have done well not to see the light of day.
Indeed, NBC will not order this telefilm in series. It will be followed by two other feature films that are also interesting to discover, and which will be the subject of our next article. To be continued !
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